Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pray Without Ceasing...Audio Blog

Listen Here


Lawd, Jesus, help me, a beg yuh!

That was my cry for many years – until I learned better.

Without getting into my theological evolution or my current spiritual understanding, I know that such a ‘prayer’ is useless. Calling to Jesus, God, Jehovah, Jah even Buddha or Allah in the middle of a situation is vain, arrogant and pretentious in my view.

I remember during my residency as an hospital Chaplain how mad I would get at family members who never darkened a church once since their childhood but would page the on call Chaplain to come to their family member’s bedside at 2:00 in the morning!

God on call is what some people believe they have and while I believe that a Higher Being is available to us at all times, It simply is not sitting around waiting to be ordered about!

The other thing that I know for sure about prayers – they are always answered, however, you might not like the answer! That is so amusing to me. I laugh at myself very often on this. We all have the tendency to think that we can bawl out to Jesus or whomever with a laundry list and “it shall be so!”

Hell no! What comes to us, we attract to ourselves. I can see some of you cringing from that statement but I stand by it. The trajectory of my life has proven that to me and whether you want to believe or buy into it hardly concerns me.  My DOS family will tell you that the song that I sing to them very frequently is to “accept, embrace and then change,” what comes if it no longer serves you. I also know the importance of being clear about my intentions – those things that I hold in my heart, the residence of Spirit/Source, as from it flows the issues of my life. Whether I label those issues good or bad, they are mine!

Some biblical verses flow easily from my lips. One of them is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


In other words, every thought, word and action is a prayer – so do take care what you are saying as that will be your life.


Is that you MO?


Share your thoughts with us.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Love Is...

Claudette Esterine
Love? What is it?

I really do not know.

Could it be that feeling that causes you to sacrifice everything you have worked hard for to the benefit of someone who everyone tells you is not worth it?

Or, is that stupidity?

Could it be that thing that you do for your children, such as staying up all day finishing their science project although your knowledge of anything beyond birds and bees is very narrow?

Or is that pride?

As I watched them wheel my newly born granddaughter off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, something moved in the base of my belly – in my womb – and I had a near animalistic desire to be with my daughter who was lying recovering from the C-section. They would not allow me in and I felt as if I would kick the doors open and go in anyway.

Is that love?

In our Facebook Group, something floats, bobs and connects all 18 of us. Each of our hearts ache when one is going through a rough time with the boss, a child is acting up, a marriage is crumbling, there is not enough money to pay the bills, or when one is sick and on dying.

We openly rejoice and feel that same floaty, bobbing and connecting thingy when one of us gets a new job, a child or children passes the exams, a Sistah graduates from a University programme, or I have a successful date.

I am sure that is love too.

Love is who we are, what we do, where we will go, how we share and it is When we answer to God’s call.

My heart is somewhat heavy this evening for reasons, affecting my DOS family, that I prefer not to disclose at this point.

What I will say definitively is Love is All that – a verb, a noun, an adjective, a prefix, a suffix – it is every part of our speaking and doing. More than everything, Love is our being.

Have a Love-filled evening!


Monday, 28 July 2014

The Three Blessings of Loss

Claudette Esterine
Have you ever ‘lost’ so much that you felt that there is nothing else for you to lose and this is it?

Well I have. Over and over again; and on one occasion almost eight years ago, I lost myself, temporarily.

Loss is one of those words that gives me trouble or gets me in trouble with others. How? Simply because I have come to learn that there really is no “loss” so to speak. Some of my friends do not understand that and feel I am either in denial or cold.

I am neither.

Life has knocked me over so many times – and I have gotten up and stronger. The lessons I learned from these KO’s have been some of the greatest ones – so why would I call them losses? Yes, relationships ended, money flew out the window, people walked away, loved ones showed their real intentions and on and on it goes.

In and through all of this, I gained:
  1. A sense of self beyond imagination
  2. Strength to grow through just about any ‘adversity’
  3. Wisdom to know and do better

The greatest insight, however, that I have gained from my KO’s is vulnerability! 

Shame is not something that stymies me. I will cry, laugh, wet my pants wherever, whenever and for whatever reason that I feel moved to so do!
“What happens when people open their hearts?"...
"They get better.”  Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
Through all of my adversities, my heart has opened more widely. With each crack, more light has entered and brightened my soul. Does that mean nothing is hard or challenging for me? If that is what you think, you would be very wrong. Only today, for example, tears flowed as I discussed my granddaughter and one woman’s coldness towards me as others chose to share in the immense joy that this little girl has brought into my life.

Do I let such people or situations cause me to give up? No. Those of us who have had bouts with clinical depression and even have attempted or contemplated suicide live every day the “visitations” of this very “friendly” condition. Depression is an insidious dis-ease and visitor who hates to leave.

In my own experience, whenever challenged by persons and/or situations such as uncaring or insensitive people, I turn into – you guessed it – Me. If possible, I go to a mirror and do my work. I talk to myself, reminding the strong black woman looking back at me of who and Whose I really am.

Life goes on – whether I chose to stay on the ride; and a ride it is indeed.

What about you? Have you ever felt like giving up? To whom do you turn for support? Please know we are always here to listen and direct you to local supports.

Do have a great evening!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Not So Good and Worst of Helicopter Parenting

Clara Brown
Parents generally want a better life for their children than they had.  Some take this desire to a different level and hover over their children, earning themselves the title "Helicopter Parents."

Then there are those who live vicariously through their children while others make their children's decisions in hopes of ensuring their success.

A parent's role is irreplaceable in the lives of their children. There are no known substitutes or scientific fix to replace the vital role or roles of parents in children's lives.  Studies have shown that:

  • Children who have parental support are likely to have better health as adults
  • Students with involved parents tend to earn higher grades, have better social skills and are more likely to do extremely well in school
  • Children are more likely to be socially competent and  have better communication skills when they have parents who are sensitive to their needs and emotions
  • Children who are supported and monitored by their parents have the tendency to keep on the straight and narrow; at least for a while into their adult lives.

The relationship that parents share with their children impacts the trajectory of the younger one's life. I can attest to this fact in my own life.  I constantly use my parents' guidance as  point of reference to this day.

Image: better brains 
To be called a 'Helicopter" or "hovering " parent gives the impression that the parent who is so labelled does not have the ability to let go even as the child grows up and ventures, supposedly, into the world on his/her own.  One of the downsides to this type of parenting is that the children seem to be least equipped to independently face the world.  Being denied the 'trial and error' experiences that are known to be crucial for strong character formation, places these children at a disadvantage as they do not know how to handle life's critical issues.

Admittedly, I do have some distinctive "helicopter/hovering" traits while Daddy is an avid advocate of balance. Dad sees his role as equipping our son, Jared, for the big world by assigning and insisting that he carries out his chores and his pet care responsibilities. Sometimes, he is taken to Dad's office and Son-Son is given duties their as well, including sales.  If Jared is successful in closing a sale, he is paid his full commission - an amount which is lodged to his bank account.

It is not the indisputable value of active parenting that I have issue with, rather the refusal to allow the child to grow beyond a parents 'cloying grasp'.  If we accept that one of the most universal feelings that transcends nationality, race, class and culture is a parent's love, then we must also place some value on the necessary 'hovering' but at the appropriate time and with the required level of balance.

I am the product of parents who did not feel the need to monitor my homework.  It was understood that I would do it properly and hand it in on time. To me, that never equated to being loved any less than a child of this generation whose mother sits  at the table (as I do), lovingly watching every pen stroke, ensuring the work is neat and tidy, ensuring the penmanship is acceptable, ensuring that the completed work is checked over for accuracy and all those self-imposed or should I say "hovering activities."  It can be debated that the world has changed and what is demanded academically of children today is so onerous that without additional parental support they will sink.

There is a thin line between being a supportive parent and being one who hovers or cossets. So if your child fails to write the homework from the board and is reprimanded, frankly, so be it.  It is a lesson learnt.  It certainly is not the end of the world.  Our job is to teach not only responsibility but also resilience.  If my child is punished for this or any other infraction at school, I do not see the need to descend on the school and engage the teacher in tedious dialogue.  My discussion will certainly be with my child to ensure that this does not happen again.  The focus for me has always been solution-oriented, not in reliving the mistake and subsequent penalty.

Having hovering or helicopter parents lead to conflicting responses in children. On one hand, there is a feeling of being cherished and protected. On the other hand, there is often resentment accompanied by unwillingness or inability to solve problems on their  own, knowing that Mom or Pop are only the press of a button away and will only too happily swoop down to "fight their battles."

What escapes some of us who have the tendency to hover is that the lessons that life teaches often make us better parents ourselves. One of the most rewarding and perhaps flattering signs of successful parenting is when a parent's counsel is sought long after the child is an adult.  It is a sign of  respect and trust. However, seeking such advice should be a part of the decision-making process and not the process in its entirety.

In the same way it is important for our children to lead their own lives, it is also of paramount importance that we have interests outside of our children that bring us great joy and satisfaction.  We cannot protect our children from hurt and pain all the time.  What we can do is to prepare them to face challenges on their own armed with the knowledge that we love and support them.

Are you willing to let go when the time comes?

Share your thoughts with us on this or any other topic, here in the comment section or on our Facebook page.

Have a great rest of the day!

Clara Brown is our regular Guest Author. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica where she is an Insurance Executive.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Little Angels Opening Doors

Audio Blog Transcript - Listen Here

When a door closes in your face or behind your back, what do you do?

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests: “Be an opener of doors.”  Are you willing to do that or just leave them closed and look for a window? Better yet, do you wait for one to open?

Searching for an answer to these questions, I turned to a few writers, thought leaders and philosophers for guidance or at least their opinions.

Mehmet Murat Ildan, Turkish playwright and novelist says, “Life is a house with millions of doors. Here is a good strategy of life: Open the doors, open as much as you can, open as much as possible, open the doors!” 

Well, that is all well and good if confronted with doors that are closed that you want to get through but what about the ones you hoped would not close?

Attributed to both Alexander Graham Bell and Hellen Keller, I found this quote quite true about closed doors: “When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

Over my 40+ years, so many doors have been closed to me, in my face or behind me. I have kicked against some, begging and pleading with the occupant to let me back in. When that did not work, I found every excuse why it was a shitty room in the first place and I was glad to be out of it.

Many a times, I was most uncomfortable in those rooms but it was comfortable. I remember when my partner of 16 years was walking out; a large part of the explanation was our relationship had become a comfort, a habit that needed to be broken. I was shattered to say the least when that door was not only closed to me but barred with steel, never to re-open.

Yet, it was my greatest and best lesson. It was also my first true opportunity to be freely Me.

Remez Sasson puts it this way:
“If we could only move our sight and attention away from the closed door, we might be surprised to discover new, open doors. It might not be so easy to move our eyes elsewhere, due to attachment to the old and familiar, and fear of the new and the unknown.”

Since that experience almost eight years ago, closing doors no longer scare me. In fact, I welcome them.  Do I hurt at times? Of course I do. The closing door to my less than a month old granddaughter has been one of the hardest doors for me. However, when I consider the price that I have paid for my freedom for 40+ years now, I stand back and pray that it might stay even slightly ajar but if it does not, then there is nothing I can do.
Then there is the magic of the Universe. As I take a stand for my freedom and my voice, my Kitten is being kept from me. The Universe, however, always colluded to bring to you what you need. First, It brought me an emergency/temporary place to stay as I, for a peaceful life, bowed to my daughter’s boyfriend’s demand to leave their apartment (or serfdom might be a better word). Next, It brought the most unexpected, delightful and delicious expression of Love.
One of my DOS Sistah offered me a place in her home. I arrived there Saturday afternoon to be greeted by her six year old daughter who I have not seen since she was two. Baby girl rushed to me like a long lost friend, threw herself on me and wrapped her arms around me and declared “I like you so much!”
I have no idea how the floodgate did not open! This morning, three days after my arrival, baby girl heard my voice in the kitchen and she charged in and again enveloped me in her loving arms (well my legs) this time declaring, “I love you!”
Struggling to keep it together,  missing my granddaughter but ever so grateful for this little angel reminding me that there is good in me even as I stand my ground that I am a free woman.
A major door is closing and my heart is bleeding but a window is being flung open by a six year old.  Life does not get better than that!
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dignity: You Either Have It Or Need It!

"No relationship, none, should require you to surrender, suppress or suffocate your dignity." Claudette Esterine

An absolute statement and I am standing by it.

Not your relationship with your parents, siblings, relatives, friends, co-workers, employer, neighbours, pastor...should I go on? No relationship, especially the one with the person you probably are with most and definitely most intimate - your lover, husband, wife, partner or spouse - should compromise your dignity.

Defined in the dictionary as "the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect," "a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect," dignity goes to the core of our beings.

The last thing you can call me is a prude. You really would not know me very well if you did so. However, there are some things that I will not do with some (or a certain) lover(s). Why? Simple. It feels uncomfortable and compromising of my self respect in that relationship.

I know you are probably thinking that I am referring to some "kinky" sexual act. You would be wrong.

In one relationship, I would not serve my partner a meal or clear their place at the dining table. Meanwhile, in another, I would wipe their butt if needs be and gladly.

The difference? No, not that one is as "ugly" as sin and the other the best looking (and tastiest) thing since sliced bread.

The way I feel, the way that I am honoured, respected, cherished and cared for is the difference.

A physically ugly mate who genuinely treats me as his/her priced treasure, respects my womanhood, uplifts my intelligence and nurtures my heart will have me turning tricks for them! Yup, you read right!

The cute one who thinks his/her crap can make meatloaf, well let us say we would not be together for too long.

My sense of self has grown intensely in the last eight years. It has been a long, hard and sweet series of battles but a "war" or better yet a challenge that is not over. In my case, sometimes it is not a lover who threatens to shake me off my high self respect perch but my child, a member of staff or more recently my child's partner.

What these people fail to understand is that once a person has tasted the deliciousness of personal freedom, you cannot serve them the bitterness of subjugation. It is very much like education this thing we call 'dignity'. Once you learn it, you cannot unlearn it and you hunger for more not less.

Is that your experience? Share your thoughts with me here or on our Facebook page.

Do have a dignified rest of the day!

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Lost Art - Hugging

Claudette Esterine
Hugging is a lost art form…or soon to be.

Touching is going out of style as well.

As a “thriver” from childhood sexual abuse, I completely understand why most parents in many parts of our world, are very concerned and train their children not to allow stranger to talk to them much less touch them and worse yet inappropriate touches of persons well known to them.

Have we gone overboard though?

I remember when we first migrated to Canada and as it became apparent that my days of high-ranking office jobs/career were over, we started looking at options. Loving children as I do, childcare was an inviting career choice. That was a brief thought. I had seen enough television and news programmes regarding accusation of molestation and abuse by caregivers of their young wards. So many lives ruined – the children’s and that of the falsely accused (in some cases) caregivers.

By nature, I am a touchy, feely, huggy person. Like the Prime Minister of the country of my birth, Jamaica, I will hug just about anyone – except the person who has p… me off. Visions of me being carted off to prison because I hugged a child a millisecond too long flash through my mind and quickly I turned the classified ads page to customer service – telephone!!!

Today is being observed as Global Hug Your Child Day. My question is – why did we have to have such a day?

Could it be that we have forgotten that there is more to life than giving children the “bling” of life? I teased my daughter that I would be gifting my Kitten a Tablet for her first birthday. She was not amused and I was glad to see that. Yet, our society has advanced so much technologically that soon children will be birthed with inbuilt computers.

While I have no desire for my grandchild to be left behind technologically, hence my promised gift, my desire is greater for her not to be left without a heart, full of love and joy. Such a heart is engendered by hugs, loving touches, expressions of affection and endearments, and consistent reminders that we are here to be social and sociable.

What is your view on this touchy-feely subject?

Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page and enjoy the rest of the day!


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We Ought To Teach Boundary Setting In Schools - Audio Blog

Claudette Esterine
Listen Here


She was not her usual bubbly self upon her arrival. Neither was I.

My attention was on getting some urgent paper work done but I did notice her frequent glances towards me. I dared not meet her eyes as the paper work needed to be done and frankly, “I was not in the mood for the stories this evening,” I said to myself.

That was me yesterday at work with one of my team members and today being Wednesday we have an audio blog – something that we have not had in at least two weeks now. My apologies for that but my attention was elsewhere – on my new grandbaby who I am happy to report has gained one pound since being discharged from the hospital a week ago. Kitten as I call her was born prematurely and weighed only four pounds. This little angel, in spite of her weight, has been a powerhouse in my life already teaching me many lessons, including the one that is our topic today – Boundaries.

This is a topic we have covered before but for the life of me I cannot pinpoint an exact date of the article, so here is your opportunity to browse our blog archive and read the many articles we have on a variety of topics.

Within a couple hours of my staff member’s arrival, we were locked away in a more private place having a conversation on boundaries. She was suicidal or intimated to me that she has been feeling that way for a few days now. Yes, I could not ignore her for the entire evening as my conscience would not allow me to and I did notice that her glances in my direction were becoming more pleading.

Here is a woman who has been through hell and back to raise her children. As a single parent, she held down three sometimes four jobs to ensure they – all five of them – had full tummies, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads. Now adults, all except one has recognised what their mother went through to keep them safe, facilitate their education and to get them on their feet. There is one, however, who at 30+ years of age, feels her mother still owes her and is determined to extract as much as she can for herself, her child and the baby in her tummy. Mom must pay all her credit card bills, babysit on demand, purchase gifts and toys for the grandchild and prepare a wardrobe for the baby that is expected in six months.

As I listened to her story, wiped her tears and talked her off the ledge that she is so familiar with having literally dived off at least once, I knew her experience was also another message to me. Like her, I have dealt with my own share of family who thought I owed them my life, the blood flowing through my veins and for the air that I breathe. It was not until my own bout with clinical depression and attempted suicide that the lesson of boundary setting started to make sense as the only option for me to maintain my sanity.

In my school years, we had Guidance classes. Yet this lesson was never taught. It seems to me that children should be taught about boundaries – what they are, how to set them and recognize when they are being violated.

If I were taught this, maybe the many incidents of domestic abuse, low self-esteem, parental abuse, mean friends and other forms of boundary-smashing would not have occurred or at least been at minimal. Talking with my member of staff yesterday, I reminded her that being spiritual does not mean allowing others, including or children and/or their spouses to take advantage of us. There is nothing written in any book that I care to read that says a grandparent MUST dedicate the rest of their lives and every penny they earn to raising another generation of children.

No book that I care to read states that any of us must allow others to dictate what kind of humans we are to be. Only Source determines that and we along with It.

Do visit our Facebook page and share with us any strategies you have for maintaining your boundaries and do continue to have a great rest of the day.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Are You In A Toxic Relationship?

We often think that toxic relationships occur only in intimate relationships but that really is not accurate.

Toxicity can arise among friends, parent-child, co-workers, and even mere acquaintances. Our tendency is to “blame” the other, whoever that may be, for the poisonous nature or injecting the toxin in the relationship.

The experts describe toxic relationships as those:
“...Characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A healthy relationship involves mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in our partner’s welfare and growth, an ability to share control and decision-making, in short, a shared desire for each other’s happiness. A healthy relationship is a safe relationship, a relationship where we can be ourselves without fear, a place where we feel comfortable and secure. A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is not a safe place. A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship. To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement.(Source: Health ScopeMagazine)

In my personal view and experience of being and staying in toxic relationships, the stage is set in our childhood, how we were conditioned or trained to relate. Often it is hard to recognise the true nature of the relationship and so, we invite you to take this Quiz and check your relationship pulse. It matters not whether it is an intimate or professional relationship. 

Toxicity is toxicity and it will choke the life out of you!

Getting and staying out of toxic relationships is – yes you know what I am going to say – an inside job. It starts and ends with you! Read these 10 Steps To End A ToxicRelationship.

Be good to yourself and should you need any support, feel free to contact us through this blog or on our Facebook page.


Monday, 14 July 2014

Pregnancy, Prenatal Care and Parenting - The Test of Mettle

Claudette Esterine
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe occurred. Although we were living only 100 kilometres away, in Kiev, we only had official confirmation about two weeks after the incident.  

Fellow students, who were in medical school and interns in various hospitals across Kiev, reported seeing badly burned people being quietly whisked into their facilities. The minimal access some had to international media broadcasts were either totally blacked out or could only be heard sporadically. The news was too big, however, and too many students were travelling outside of the country for information of the disaster to be kept on the “down low,” for much longer.

I was pregnant with my first child and was one of the first to get out of the country. Months later, when my child – a boy – was born, dead, a still birth, I blamed the Soviet Government for my loss. The stress of being in the country for months after the accident and eating and drinking polluted food and water, if not the actual effects of the nuclear substances (??) that wafted across Kiev, were thought to be in some measure responsible for my loss.

Twenty eight years later, I am wondering how true that really was as I sat in the waiting room of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, Canada.

On July 1, 2014 at 1:40 in the morning, my first grandchild, a girl, was born. Her arrival was unexpected by the medical professionals but something told me she was going to get here earlier than her August 4 due date. When my daughter sent me the picture from her first ultrasound I was still in Jamaica on an extended visit. After offering congratulations and the usual questions such as when, what the sex, etc., I remarked to her “Your baby is going to get here by mid-July." I just knew.

Returning to Canada in April was not my first choice. I really wanted to remain in Jamaica, the land of my birth, but the actualities on the ground were not what I had hoped they would be and something was telling me it was time to leave. News of a grandchild determined where my destination in Canada would be.

Looking at my daughter, doing my own assessment of her pregnancy and her physical movement, I repeated to her, possibly more often than she cared to hear, that the baby was going to be here early. Approaching the end of June, I noticed bodily changes in her that took me straight back to Kiev, 1986. They also took me back to October 1987 - when she was born and I was experiencing exactly what she was.

That was when it slowly dawned on me that the stillbirth of my first child was not necessarily due to the Chernobyl accident but my own health deficiencies and the poor medical care that I was receiving as a severely anemic woman. My daughter is too.

On June 30, Abi, my daughter called me at work around 5:00 p.m. to say she was still feeling poorly and suffering severe leg and lower back pain. Without a second thought I told her to get dressed, we are going to the hospital. We arrived around 6:00 p.m. and an Intern examined her around 8:30. His diagnosis was that back pain was “a regular occurrence in pregnant women" and he was going to send her home with some Tylenol!

Those who know me, and my daughter does, know that I can and will become dangerously annoyed when my loved ones are threatened. My looks will kill when my intelligence is questioned. The Intern found out as well.

After schooling him on the shared condition between my daughter and I; how it presents itself and what her medical professional since the pregnancy has not done, he ordered a battery of tests and requested a specialist, senior obstetrician/surgeon consult.

Said Senior Doctor confirmed what my Spirit was telling me and what Mahalia, my Kitten and granddaughter, was desperately trying to communicate all day. It was time to get her out.

Mahalia on the NICU a week ago
Slumped on the floor outside of the Operating Room, weeping after seeing my granddaughter – all 4lbs 1 ounce of her for the first time – all I wanted was to go see my daughter in recovery. She was wheeled out almost an hour later and her first words to me were “Did you see the baby?

This morning as I changed her diaper as she fussed (she hates being changed), my heart sang. The cycle has broken.

Death is not something I fear. Not anymore. The death of my first child and the many transitions that I have had the honour of being present for in two hospitals in Alberta have taught me that this is a circle – the circle of Life.

Mahalia at almost two weeks old
She is not completely out of the woods but our Mahalia is a fighter, surpassing every target set for her as a preemie and was released from the hospital one week and a day after her birth. The prayers but more the Love that has encircled her has been more than I could have imagined. Mahalia has brought healing to many relationships in my and her mother’s life.

Funny side story: My daughter did not know about her baby’s namesake – Mahalia Jackson – when she chose the name. When I told her she said, “Well you will have to teach her about her!”I most certainly will tell her about the Queen of Gospel but also that her name means “tenderness,” and that is what she is – tender and precious.

Do you have a story to share about your child’s or grandchild’s birth? We want to hear so leave a comment here or visit our Facebook page and share it with us.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Domestic Violence Can Happen To Anyone: DOS Weekly

Read here
This is our 25th edition of DOS Weekly and I apologize for the two previously unedited editions. There is a good excuse - my first grandchild,  Mahalia, arrived unexpectedly at 35 weeks into the gestation period. She is now 11 days old having been born on Canada Day!

DOS Foundation and this weekly is dedicated to empowering every woman and  her family. Our carefully selected stories for you this week cover your health, domestic violence and the changing world of employment opportunities.

Do enjoy reading these and we thank you for your continued support. Consider subscribing to DOS Weekly and get notification once the paper is hot off the keyboard!

Visit with us on Facebook and please follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Women? Fight Against Each Other? No...

Claudette Esterine
The idea that women “fight against” each other is such an ancient one that it has become somewhat like a law of life or rules of the game, so to speak. I am not sure where it has its roots or whether it is a mythical or psychological tale that someone spun many years ago that we have managed to perpetuate.

One thing that I know for sure is that this pattern of behavior: backstabbing, pulling at each other’s skirt tails, attempting to drag a Sistah off the proverbial ladder has marred and scarred so many of us. In my own experience, women were never considered to be my friends for a very long time but someone to compete with for limited resources. Whether it was the affection of a man or a coveted promotion, I practised and mastered (I hate to admit) the art of “women being our own worst enemies.”

A demure woman was the first to begin tutoring me to change my attitude. She reminded me that all my behaviour towards another is a reflection of, not their, but my demons.


Yes, really and as the years went by and the lessons deepened and expanded I began to understand the truth of this lesson. Learning to love myself, to erase as best as I could the recording of the most significant woman in my life, my mother, putting me down, my wings grew and my heart expanded.

Today, as I prepare to take on the mantle of Matriarch of my family, I know that some of the most important lessons that must be passed on to my granddaughter:
  1. Self-love and self-respect
  2. Cooperation over competition
  3. Truth and honour above all else
What about you? What will be your legacy? What story will you be telling of woman- and sister-hood.
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Monday, 7 July 2014

The Sweetness of Life

Claudette Esterine
Life can be harsh, hard and sometimes downright horrible. It might be better to say that life's circumstances can be all of those things and more.

More often than not, however, life is sweet, delicious and delightful.

The bitter and the best of life may occur within the same day, moment and/or with the same person.
How ironic is that?

Almost all of the posts on this blog reflect certain aspects of the authors’ lives. The sour and the sweet of life, in this moment, are reflective of mine.

For many months, my relationship with my adult daughter was troubled, marred by unrealised expectations on both sides, disappointments regarding career choices, a failed business venture, etc. As a mother, I had certain hopes and dreams for my daughter. As a child, she had her own. As the saying goes – “never the twain shall meet.”

Estranged for months, actually closer to two years, with the support of my Sistahs of Daughters of Sheba who stood firmly in the gap for us, my hope and fervent prayer was that one day we would reunite. Yet, I was clear that that reunion would be on the basis of equals – with me respecting her choices as a woman and she respecting mine as a strong, independent, and very different type of mother.

That day came with the birth of my first grandchild on July 1, 2014.

Is everything forgotten, all the ‘failures’, disappointments, hurts? No. I hope not. Forgiven most certainly, at least on my part but not forgotten. While working in the correctional system, I was taught but rejected as a blanket covering all ‘evil’, that “the past behaviour is a pencil for the future.” Hearts can change, in my view and based on my own experience. Mine has and I have seen others do the same. It takes work but more so resolve to be vulnerable and open. It takes trust.

In my view, it also takes remembering.

My memory of the challenges that my daughter and I have experienced, makes the sweetness of the past week more than bearable. Seeing my Kitten’s face (that is my name for my granddaughter) makes the journey to this day that much sweeter.

Will we have disagreements between us, even fights? Of course! Up to yesterday we did! What I know for sure now is that nothing will separate my heart from that of my daughter and her first child – Mahalia.

I do apologize for the absence of our regular posts all of last week. This was due to the unexpected arrival of this bundle of joy one week ago. It is my promise that you our readers will continue to share my journey and that of my small family. It would be my honour to continue to share yours and look forward to your comments here on our blog or on our Facebook page.